Scamwatch: Facebook fraud

Jess Bown
Mobile phone Facebook account
Mobile phone Facebook account

Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, Facebook fraud, which is generally designed to infect your computer with a virus.

Is Financial Fraud Too Complex to Prosecute?
Is Financial Fraud Too Complex to Prosecute?

How does it work?

The scams used to trap Facebook users tend to fall into one of five categories, according to internet security company Bitdefender.

Its two-year study of more than 850,000 Facebook scams reveals that almost half of Fcebook scams are linked to services that promise to allow users to see who has viewed their profile.

Other popular Facebook scams include those aimed at people keen to embellish their profiles, for example by choosing a different colour scheme, as well as fake giveaways such as free tickets and extra points for video gamers.

Celebrity sex tapes are also often used to lure people in, while scams involving so-called atrocity videos - which use horrific images such as animals or children being tortured to grab your attention - are also becoming increasingly common.

How can I avoid being caught out?

The Bitdefender research indicates that even well-educated people fall for Facebook scams.

"Anyone could fall victim to a Facebook scam at one point in his life, as cyber-criminals always pull the right psychological triggers," the company said.

Ways to avoid falling victim to Facebook scams include ignoring Facebook surveys and videos you have to share or like a website to view and refusing to install updates suggested by videos that appear on the site.

Bitdefender also advises Facebook users to keep their operating systems, firewalls and antivirus software up to date to make life more difficult for the hackers.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

If you are targeted by fraudsters on Facebook, you can report them to the website by clicking on the "Report" link next to the video or article concerned.

If you think your computer has been infected by a virus, you should also check using an online virus scanner, such as the Microsoft Safety Scanner.

And don't forget to change any passwords and login details that may have been compromised by the scam - especially those linked to your financial accounts.

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